Category: Trends

How two companies are killing it by marketing to California’s active senior consumer


AmaWaterways and Pedego Electric Bikes are leading the way in both product development and marketing

Two California-based companies are getting a head start in their categories by recognizing the importance of the growing, active, and affluent 55+ consumer. AmaWaterways, a leader in high-end river cruises, and Pedego, the #1 seller of electric bikes, are seeing the potential of this demographic, and it’s no wonder. Just look at the numbers:

•  The 2010 Census shows that the senior age group is, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percent in the U.S.

• There are approximately 7 million Californians aged 55 and older. And it is expected to grow more than twice as fast as the total population.

• A Pew Research study indicates that of people aged 65 to 74, one third say they feel 10 to 20 years younger than they are!

More and more Seniors can now be classified as “active seniors”. This group realizes that if they are to optimize their later years, and do all the things they want to, they’re going to have to take better care of their physical and cognitive health.

Both AmaWaterways and Pedego Electric Bikes are offering Seniors the perfect products for their increasingly active lifestyles. AmaWaterways is dispelling the stereotype of cruisers who are old, sedentary and just want to sit around eating and drinking all day. Their ships provide bicycles for their passengers who want to explore on their own during shore excursions. They are offering healthier food options, more shore excursions, and tours that are geared for different levels of walking ability. Their newer ships feature a larger sun-deck pool, a wellness studio with an enlarged workout facility,  and even more healthy dining options And, of course, more bicycles! While river and ocean cruises have always attracted an “older” demo, Ama is now appealing to  “young-at-heart” consumers. They also realize that their marketing materials, staff, entertainment, and destinations have to be increasingly in sync with this new, vibrant, modern-day cruise target. Clearly, AmaWaterways is not your grandfather’s cruise line.

With Pedego leading the way, electric bikes are a growing trend with both active and inactive seniors. Verses “normal” bikes, electric bikes allow one to pedal when they want to, effortlessly cruise if they feel like it, or throttle down to zoom up a hill. Gone are the days of Seniors having excuses to be inactive. For those who are out of shape, for those who have a few aches or pains, or for those who are simply a bit lazy, electric bikes are the answer. According to an article on electric bikes in Newsweek,

“Little by little you find yourself asking for less and less assistance and burning more calories”

Pedego’s line of bikes are particularly well-designed, colorful, easy to operate, and fun. And speaking of fun, don’t you just love a company who’s tagline is “Hello, Fun!” And their marketing is making it clear that the active senior is a primary sales target. Company spokesperson, William Shatner, active and youthful at 87 years-old, loves his Pedegos (all 16 of them!).  In one of the company’s video he states:

“Pedego’s are great because I can keep up with the 20 year-olds in our family. In fact, if truth be told, I go a little faster!”

Pedego Electric Bikes and AmaWaterways are two companies that “get” active seniors and understand the powerful and pre-emptive strategy of marketing to them before their competitors do. Oh, and here’s a thought. Shouldn’t AmaWaterways have Pedego bikes on board their cruise ships? 

Photo by SpeedKingz

Change the Way You Sell Senior Living

Speaker Promo_ LinkedIn

On this episode of the Senior Care Growth Show, we shared data about the baby boomer generation so you can prepare to meet the challenges of marketing and selling to this demographic head-on.

“In the next several years, more and more baby boomers will be seeking senior living services, and so the time is now to understand this generation’s attitudes towards aging and how you should be messaging your communities. Our guests on this podcast episode talk about how the way you sell and market your services is going to need to adapt. We’re going to hear today about baby boomers’ media preferences, aging in place, other attitudes and other trends that you’re going to need to adapt to.”

Are you wondering if your current marketing and sales efforts will be effective with Baby Boomers? You’re not going to want to miss this episode.

Click Here to listen to either the audio or video podcast of our interview by The Senior Care Show.

Silver Advertising Podcast Interview


Grandparents: The Marketing Potential of Targeting these California Seniors

Silver Advertising California Seniors

Grandparents are the Gifts that Keep Giving

A demographic target audience which is solely based on age, gender, and income only tells part of the story. Smart marketers realize that behavior and the life stage of consumers can often times determine buying habits that are more revealing and actionable.

And today’s media—especially online media, can pinpoint potential life-stage consumers precisely. Such is the case for the big and fast growing consumer group consisting of grandparents—a sub-segment of seniors that is spending billions of dollars a year and is ready to spend even more in a variety of product categories. To say that there is untapped potential with grandparents as a consumer segment is quite an understatement. The numbers, extrapolated from an AARP study, are staggering:

  • It’s estimated that there are approximately 90,000,000 grandparents in the U.S. That’s about 12 million in California alone.
  • About 75,000 Americans between the ages of 45-69 become grandparents each month
  • 89% of grandparents say they enjoy buying gifts for their grandkids
    • 25% say they spend up to $250 per year
    • 24% say they spend between $250 and $750
    • 25% spend over $1,000 annually
  • As for what they spend on their grandkids, the categories vary:
    • 95% say they buy birthday and holiday gifts including toys, books and clothes
    • 53% help with educational expenses
    • 37% contribute to everyday living expenses
    • 23% help with the cost of medical/dental expenses
    • 41% spend for the child’s overall well-being
    • 43% spend on activities that are fun to do with them

Jerry Shereshewsky, CEO of, put it this way:

“The grandparent life stage accounts for a multi-billion marketplace ranging from products to services to educational investments. With grandparents today being more active and aware than ever before, the avenues for spending are varied and deep.”

On a personal note, I’m about to become a grandparent for the first time in a couple of months. And our future grandson is being spoiled before he’s a day old. We’ve already purchased a car seat, a stroller, a baby seat for the back of a bicycle, and a number of books, toys and clothes. And all this coming before the baby shower! I must say we’ve never spent money with such pleasure. I was even tempted to buy a little baseball glove, a tiny surfboard, and a miniature set of golf clubs until I was reminded that I was a few years early on those. My grandparent friends smile at me because they get it. No shopping is as fun or as rewarding as spending money on grandchildren.

My wife and I don’t understand why we’re not being advertised to by marketers who are spending their budgets on parents, while largely overlooking grandparents. Creating a specific grandparent strategic plan consisting of creative and media with them in mind seems like the easiest and smartest way to grab the lowest hanging fruit. Grandparents are receptive and anxious to spend. And that could mean big profits for CMO’s everywhere.

Photo by Monkey Business Images


The Importance of Having the Right Resources When Targeting California’s Seniors


When it comes to marketing to California’s seniors, it takes one to know one!

The opportunity is there. 7,000,000 California seniors who are mostly ignored or disrespected by marketers. With more buying power than any other demographic segment, marketers are just now beginning to realize the huge potential of senior consumers and the importance of getting their message to them ahead of their competitors. But knowing about the potential is only half the battle. Having the right resources, with a knowledge and sensitivity to the target audience, is critical to successful selling.

As for me, being referred to as a “senior” doesn’t bother me. After all, I share some common characteristics with this consumer segment including:

  • I’m 65 years old, but think of myself as 10 to 15 years younger (until I’m buying something online and need to scroll and scroll downward to find 1953)
  • I’m still working and don’t plan on stopping any time soon
  • I’ve become less brand loyal and less status conscious
  • I expect deals and discounts. And I’m not embarrassed using coupons.
  • Now that the kids are out of the house, my wife and I downsized and simplified
  • I exercise more and eat healthier than ever
  • I get most of my news online, but still enjoy an occasional newspaper
  • I’m nostalgic about music and events of my youth, but try to stay current and contemporary

As far as the advertising and marketing industry is concerned, too many ad agencies believe that older people don’t understand social media, they’re too expensive, and they need a younger staff to work on large, youth-oriented categories such as fast food, soft drinks, beer, video games, and telecommunications. According to Nancy Martin, Director-talent at TBWA,

“There’s a commonly held conception that to be creative, you need to know what’s hot, what music is cool, what website is all the rage, and with age, you become less aware of those things by and large”

That might explain why the average age of the staff in ad agencies is 38 and why more than 60% of employees in the ad industry are 25-44. What’s more, the average age of a creative is 27, and just 5% of agency employees are over 50.(Forbes Magazine) Meanwhile, there’s a large and skilled talent pool consisting of older advertising professionals that has been pushed out of the business. No wonder 32% of advertising professionals say they experienced ageism and 79% say they work in an ageist industry.

Assuming there’s some truth to younger employees being a better fit for products aimed at younger consumers, there are still huge brands and companies that market (or should market) to consumers aged 55+. After all, seniors represent half of the population and control over 50% of the nation’s disposable income. And importantly, they account for $46 trillion in wealth! (Forbes Magazine) It’s time for CMOs to question the experience of their resources for their older customers and time for older and experienced advertising and marketing professionals to help them understand and communicate to this large, untapped, and growing demographic.

Photo by Benjamin Morris

Career Longevity Steps CMOs Should Consider


The biggest demo is waiting to be courted – California seniors!

A Harvard Business Review study notes that CMOs can expect on average 4.1 years on the job. That’s frightening, given the impact of losing a gig that according to Ad Age, pays major brand CMOs $1.5 million a year in salary and benefits.

CMOs could improve their job security:

  • Google ‘seniors economic power’ – prepare to find the largest cohort of consumers and why they’ve been underserved by marketers.
  • Embrace 55-85 as the new 18-49 demo
  • Look at senior spending categories (not just healthcare) and find a sweet spot for your brand
  • Get it out of your head that everyone 65 years-old retires
  • Act like you’re starting in marketing all over again – be smart, be bold, be original!

Today’s CMO jobs are tough, if not tougher, than it was when I was CMO for McDonald’s and Warner Bros. Somehow, that title is the first to take the hit, regardless of the department leading the initiative. That’s just the way it is.

But, a great CMO is more than a marketer. Their # 1 job, customer acquisition, comes from being a forensic accountant, private investigator,  possessing innate curiousity, and a voracious student of trends others may not discover until they’ve become norms.

The demographic phenomenon known as the “silver tsunami”, will expand a brand’s market share dominance and could extend a CMO’s job tenure. The number ofCalifornia seniors  will increase 87% over the next two decades. As they’ve hit the magic retirement age, they’re disrupting convention by staying in the workforce.

Joseph Coughlin, founder of the MIT AgeLab and author of The Longevity Economy, describes the problem marketers are having getting their heads around the enormity of this age group

“Oldness as a social construct is at odds with the reality that constrains how we live after middle age and stifles business thinking on how to best serve a group of consumers, workers and innovators that is growing larger and wealthier with every passing day.”

This definition succinctly captures the starting point CMOs can undertake to proactively move their company’s portfolio into consideration for consumers that have another 25+ years of spending ahead of them. And they control 70% of the nation’s disposable income!

California is particularly poised as the best state to develop dedicated senior plans.With a projected 112% increase in senior growth, this segment is increasing at twice the rate of any other state.

  • They’re more active and in better shape. A 65-year old can expect another 20 years of life.  And it’s even longer for women.
  • Shopping online is not just for the young. 70% of seniors are e-commerce users.
  • The number of traditional TV viewing seniors approaches 2/3’s of the population, but streaming as an option is gaining quickly with 78% being internet users.
  • Over 50% aged 55-64 use streaming services.

Finding what senior consumers want is really a simple exercise. Dig into what they’re doing today to stay in shape, earn a paycheck, make a difference in their community and enjoying the fruits of their labor. Study the brands late 30 and 40-year olds were once loyal to and see if they’re still loyal. Tailoring your message to support  seniors who are experiencing service or product innovations will get results. Done right, you may need to ween yourself off marketing to millennials. After all, they don’t have all or even most of the money.

Photo by Monkey Business Images

Marketing to Healthy-Eating California Seniors


Healthy eating by California’s seniors can lead to healthy profits for marketers.

California has a reputation for being the home to people who eat healthy, have an active lifestyle, and have an upbeat attitude. But is this reputation deserved or more of a myth? And if it is true, how does it apply to seniors, and what does it mean for marketers trying to reach this target audience?

There is evidence that supports many of the “stereotypes’ of the state. According to The United Health Foundation, California ranks 3rd in the nation in “health behaviors” which measures such things as diet, exercise, smoking, drinking, and preventative care visits to doctors and dentists. So it’s not surprising that the state has a life expectancy of 80.9 which is 2nd in the U.S.

As far as diet is concerned, Californians are known as healthier eaters. They eat more servings of fruits and vegetables than residents of any other state. But for California’s 7,000,000 seniors, it can be a different story. Consistent with the rest of the country, approximately 1 in 4 older Californians have poor nutrition. And as they get older, their nutritional needs, appetite, and food habits change in many ways. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that seniors need to be mindful of the following:

  • Seniors need to eat more foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals
  • Many seniors experience a loss of appetite with age. It’s also common for seniors to have their sense of taste and smell diminish. These factors lead to malnutrition and health problems.
  • Since seniors often do not notice when they are thirsty, it’s especially important for them to make a conscious effort to stay hydrated
  • Many seniors have less social interactions which can turn mealtimes into a chore rather than an enjoyable experience

Marketers can help educate and provide seniors with solutions to healthier eating. The National Institute on Aging suggests:

  1. Help make eating more of a social event
  2. Provide them with healthy meal planning and portion control solutions
  3. Add more flavors to their food using herbs and spices
  4. Provide foods that are softer for their teeth and gums
  5. Develop products that are specifically created to address the fiber, vitamins and minerals that seniors need

The adult nutritional section in stores is a sad place. All too often, food is being marketed too much like medicine. Packaging, product names, graphics, and nutritional information are presented in a boring, clinical manner that appears anything but delicious or appealing. Packaged-goods marketers can easily stand out as a brand that “gets” seniors. And in California, with the most Hispanics and Asians in the country, imagine the opportunity for senior-oriented products created just for them. The opportunity starts with the right products, but should continue with the same “senior sensitivity” in pricing, advertising and distribution.

In the U.S., seniors account for nearly $230B of consumer sales. And much of this is made up of food-related products. The 2010 U.S. Census shows the senior age group is, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percentage. And it’s the fastest growing! It’s time for brands to address this target with more products with them in mind. And there’s no better way to do that than to provide nutritional and delicious food products that add healthy years to their lives.

Photo by Goran Bogicevic

A Disruption Marketing Strategy for California Seniors


The time is right for disruptive marketing strategies to the senior market.

If you’re a CMO and market a product with at least 15% of your sales being attributed to senior consumers and you’re not committing marketing dollars to that segment, think about the following:

  • Seniors spend over $5 trillion annually (AARP)
  • The senior age group is, for the first time, the largest in terms of size and percentage. And it’s the fastest growing age segment. (2010 U.S. Census)
  • By 2025, one in every 5 Americans will be 65 or older (International Longevity Center)
  • Adults 55 to 64 outspend the average consumer in nearly every category, from food, household furnishings, entertainment, personal care, gifts, travel, and many others (The U.S. Consumer Expenditure Survey)
  • Boomers outspend younger adults online nearly 2:1 (Forrester Research)
  • Although seniors account for nearly 50% of consumer spending, they are targeted with just 10% of marketing dollars (AARP)

If those statistics got your attention, it’s the perfect time to act. After all, how many times have you experienced a huge target audience with money and the inclination to buy which, up until now, has been untapped by you and been ignored by your competitors? Probably never. So here are some tips to get started:

  1. After a sales audit by consumer segment, and checking on both your own Brand Development Index and Category Development Indexes against the senior target, if it’s clear that there is some “blue ocean” out there, begin the process of learning about what makes seniors tick. If you have the time, staff and resources to do that and to develop marketing strategies culminating in a marketing plan, great. If not, you should look in to partnering with companies that specialize in marketing to seniors.
  2. If there are apparent opportunities and the budget to move forward with a plan, many marketers do some form of A/B testing and in-market testing in a limited geography. The downside of this approach is that it telegraphs your intentions to competitors.
  3. Your media spend needs to be sufficient enough to make an impact. Remember, this is a target audience that may be unaware of your brand and needs messaging that is tailored to them. Plus, don’t cut corners on production costs. Seniors are tired of, and insulted by, cheaply produced, stereotypical advertisements (re: “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”.)

And here’s a big idea for a big thinking brand that wants to pre-empt the competition and make huge inroads with seniors overnight. Be a brand that not only advertises to seniors in a meaningful way, be the first main-stream brand that truly embraces them and celebrates them. Do it with a highly creative and well-produced advertising campaign. Like famous past campaigns for Nike (“Just do It” when it was introduced in the 80’s, or Apple Computers when they came on the scene with “Think Different”

Photo by WeAre

Quality Time Remaining and Marketing to California’s Seniors


How understanding “QTR” can give marketers an advantage with California’s senior consumers.

QTR, as an acronym and attitude about life, is growing in awareness and popularity—especially with seniors. Standing for Quality of Life Remaining, those adopting a QTR perspective have a growing sense of their own mortality and a feeling about how many years they might have left to live a fulfilling, enjoyable, and meaningful life. Since every person has their own idea about what makes up QTR and how it motivates their attitudes and behavior, the goal for marketers is to understand how to position your products and services to fit this mindset.

Importantly, QTR is not just about life expectancy, it’s about a healthy life expectancy, which factors in the absence of serious illness or injury. These two numbers can be quite different. For instance, the current life expectancy for California’s 7,000,000 seniors is 80.8 years old. That ranks California 4th in the U.S. But according to the CDC, the healthy life expectancy in the state is 67.7 years old. Remarkably, that seemingly low healthy life expectancy is the 3rd best of any of state. (CDC) With an average age of retirement at 68 years old (Bureau of Labor Statistics), it’s obvious that QTR is not just about what life should or could be like when one stops working. Increasingly, people are typically motivated to adopt the QTR point of view as early as in their 50’s, and for some, even earlier.

Joanna Campbell in her article “QTR-And Why It Matters” outlines some key questions that help define how people can approach the concept of QTR for planning the rest of their lives. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Who and what matters to me?
  2. Who and what take up a lot of time and effort—and are a waste of time and effort?
  3. What joys do I overlook or under-appreciate?
  4. What do I need to accomplish in the time that I have left?
  5. What am I putting off that matters?
  6. What do I need to change that I should change?

My first taste of QTR occurred in graduate school when we were given the assignment of looking into the future and then writing our own obituary. I can honestly say writing my obituary helped shape what I wanted to do for a living, my feelings about family life, and what kind of accomplishments I would be proud of. The assignment also forced me to think about how I wanted to be remembered. Powerful stuff for a 22-year old to ponder. And by the way, I still have a lot to do to make that obituary a reality.

For marketers, the trick is how to gently remind the senior target that the time is now to buy your product or use your service. They need to be motivated to go on that Mediterranean Cruise now. Don’t put off that Harley Davidson purchase a minute longer. Take your grandkids to LegoLand this weekend. Don’t delay in buying that big screen TV, learning to play the piano, joining a gym, eating better, reading more books, seeing more movies, trying new restaurants, learning to speak Spanish, whatever. The point is, someday is not soon enough. Your potential consumers are not going to live forever, but you can help them extend their Healthy Life Expectancy, and just as importantly, help them extend their Happy Life Expectancy.

Photo by Benjamin Morris

California Seniors are Driving Well into their 80’s and Car Dealers are Noticing!


What CMOs can learn from more years of consumption on the road ahead.

Few things are more devastating when you age than giving up your driving privileges. For the family, it means more shuttle duties. But to the senior, it can shorten their life. From your 16th birthday, or whatever the age you attained your driver’s license, your California driver’s license was literally your declaration of independence.

CMOs will be happy to discover that older drivers are not hitting the brakes anytime soon. And with the economic power and sheer population size of California, seniors can expect to drive well past their 80’s.

In the US., drivers 70+ represent 11% of the total population. That’s huge because mobility means money. And seniors hold 50% of the country’s wealth. The ability to continue driving means continuing to lead virtually the same life, consuming as they did in their 40’s and 50’s. California exceeds every data point that involves the automobile. This includes drive-thru restaurants, banks, grocery stores, gas stations, malls, etc. And the car or truck relies on money to stay on the road – from tires to insurance.

With the coming age wave, the opportunity with senior driver independence is only growing.

It’s not surprising the auto dealer business in California outperforms all states.

  • According to NADA data – California’s 1333 dealers have annual revenue of $120 billion
  • California drivers hold 12% of all registered cars in the country.

These data points speak directly to the auto ecosystem and the impact California seniors are having on the economy. And it’s going to get even better as the growth in senior drivers continues.

California, like most states, encourages longevity in one’s driving privileges. Licenses are renewed every five years, and until age 70 drivers may automatically be granted two five-year renewals by mail or online. Starting at 70, drivers must renew in person, taking a written test and eye exam.

And the data supports the accident rate among seniors/boomers to be dropping. And California Senior drivers are safer than all others on the road. Here are the key reasons:

  • They obey the speed limits and are less distracted
  • They tend not to drink or text while driving
  • Seniors drive fewer miles – 45% fewer annually than a 40-year-old
  • Seniors drive primarily during daylight hours

Auto insurance costs for seniors reflect their safer statistics on the road.

The average insurance quote for a 21-year-old is $2,124, while the average for someone aged 60 to 64 is $1,159. And the rate only goes up to $1,381 for someone 80 to 84.

Since 1997, Baby Boomers have swelled the 70+ population, but car accident fatalities per capita among older people has decreased 47%. And since 1975 it is now at its lowest level.

The Silver Rush in California is being driven in part by aging drivers. Having the freedom to go and shop wherever they choose should accelerate marketer’s decisions to join this “Silver Rush” now. It should be quite a ride.

Photo By Clark 1948 Cadillac via photopin (license)

Exercise and Surfing. Important Factors in Marketing to California Seniors


How marketers can benefit from the healthy and active California senior lifestyle.

Californians have the led the country in a variety of trends over the years. And none have been more important than the trend of seniors living longer and healthier lives. As stated by Elder Options On-line Directory (EO),

“As you grow older, an active lifestyle is more important than ever. Regular exercise can help boost energy, maintain your independence, and manage symptoms of aging. And not only is exercise good for your body—it’s also good for your mind, mood, and memory.”

Similarly, in an article titled 7 benefits of exercise for the Elderly, BT reports that weight-bearing exercise and regular cardiovascular exercise such as brisk walking can help people live longer lives, prevent falls, reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack, increase bone density, reduce the risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s, prevent or delay diseases, and improve confidence.

The California lifestyle is more conducive to exercise because of its weather, geography and youthful attitude. Seniors are walking, hiking, bicycling, skiing, playing tennis, golf, and pickleball to name a few active pastimes. They’re also surfing! In fact, it’s estimated that of California’s 7,000,000 seniors, over 200,000 surf regularly. And according to the San Diego Surfing School, there are some real benefits of surfing for seniors such as:

  1. Seniors who surf will burn up to 400 calories per hour
  2. Since surfing uses all limbs, seniors will have a thorough workout
  3. Surfing is a form of exercise that benefits their minds and bodies
  4. Surfing is a great sport to encourage socializing with fellow surfing enthusiasts
  5. Connecting with nature, particularly the beach, gives seniors a whole new level of experience that makes them feel younger and more vital

Surfing for Life, a 68-minute documentary, shows profiles of some of surfing’s most famous legends riding the waves into their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The film highlights Californian John “Doc” Ball who at 93 is the oldest known American surfer. And as “Doc” puts it, “The sea is great medicine. It keeps you young.”

California recently declared surfing as the state’s “Official Sport.” Says State Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, who sponsored the declaration,

“I think surfing really stands apart not only for being an iconic part of California’s culture, but also for the environmental message of respecting and protecting our ocean and our environment.”

Plus, Muratsuchi estimates that surfing generates more than $6B to the state’s economy each year.

California marketers who picture seniors living sedentary lifestyles need to re-think this active and vital demographic. And there’s an untapped financial reason to do so. After all, seniors control nearly 50% of spending in the state, yet receive only 10% of marketing dollars! (AARP) There’s an opportunity to not only market products that are related to their many and varied active pursuits, but there is an equally important opportunity to market the attitude of a healthy, active and positive older consumer. Just envision a smiling and fit senior coming out the surf holding their board. If that’s not a reminder of the opportunity of this population segment, I don’t know what is.

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